BACK FOREVER, the sequel to Bring Me Back, is the continuation of freelance writer Claire Abby and British rock star Christopher Penman’s story after they get back together.
Unless a book ends with a cliff hanger or numerous loose ends, sequels make me nervous. Many a good character has been mutilated in a sequel. Chris and Claire were reunited and embarking on a baby quest when last I saw them. I was good with that. Then I learned about BACK FOREVER. Ms. Booth had made Claire’s teen dream come true in such a believable way that I couldn’t not discover where she took Chris and Claire, fingers crossed of course.
I don’t recommend reading BACK FOREVER without reading Bring Me Back first.
One of the biggest draws for me is Chris’ and Claire’s ages. Much of today’s fiction revolves around twenty-and-early-thirty-somethings. Finding romance characters in their forties and beyond is a boon. When they’re realistically portrayed and relatable to boot, it’s icing on the cake.
BACK FOREVER alternates between Chris and Claire’s point of view. Happily Chris and Claire stay true to themselves.
Chris may be a rock star but he’s come through fame with his feet firmly planted in reality, for the most part.
Claire is as determined and independent as ever. It’s a real struggle for her to let go and learn to lean on someone else.
These are just a few examples of the dilemmas Claire and Chris face.
There are challenges specific to older couples,
I blinked. I focused.
There it was.
One blue line.
I caught the sigh before it left my throat. Sharing my disappointment would only make her feel worse. I tugged her into an embrace, pressing my cheek to the side of her head. My fingers trailed through her silky hair. “Weren’t we just saying how much we like trying?”
“The rest of the world can wait for a little while. I don’t want this turning into a circus, although we can’t keep people from finding out forever. It’ll get out eventually. Very soon if we aren’t careful.”
“You know I’m not comfortable being in those magazines. I hate the feeling of not having any privacy.”
“He also had a bit of a proposition for me.” Let’s see how this goes. “Oh yeah?”
“He wants the band to do some shows, in New York. Radio City Music Hall. He’s already spoken to our booking agent.”
She bolted upright, clutching the sheet to her chest. “A Banks Forest reunion? Seriously?”
I scanned her face, somewhat taken by surprise. “He thought you’d be happy.”
“She’s starting a new magazine and wants me for entertainment editor. The offices would be here in New York, but she said I could stay in Chapel Hill. She’d only need me up here one or two days a month.”
Guilt washed over me. My enthusiasm for her news in no way matched hers for mine. “That sounds brilliant. Really, Claire. You’ve worked so hard.” She’s worked harder than hard. She’s worked her ass off.
“So you think I should take it?”
Bloody hell. How do I know? “You should consider it. I guess my only concern is that part of the genius of being a freelance writer is that we’d have flexibility when the baby comes along. You’d be giving that up. We’d be giving that up.”
Where to live:
“I’m only going on about the electrical because it’s a problem,” I continued, placing my hand on her back. I sucked in a deep breath. “I think we need to look for a new house.”
She clunked her glass on the kitchen counter. “What’s wrong with my house?”
“Would you like me to make you a list?” I kept my voice even and measured, knowing full well that I’d struck an unpleasant chord. “I love the house, but we’re at maximum capacity with your dad staying in the guest room.”
“It is sorta cramped, Mom.” Sam loaded massive scoops of ice cream into two bowls.
“The plumbing is bad, the electrical is old,” I added. “The air-conditioning struggles to keep the upstairs cool and the driveway is crumbling. There’s more. Do you want me to keep going?”
Claire folded her arms across her chest. “What if we just fix things up?”
Credibility shines through the challenges facing Claire and Chris as well as their reactions and solutions. Their maturity and past experiences help them to see the big picture versus getting mired in the inconsequential. The fine art of compromise is alive and well, at least in Ms. Booth’s fiction.
“Right. It’s called life. We’re living it. Remember?” He threaded his fingers through my hair. “Living our amazing life. Together.”
Poignant, bittersweet and satisfying, BACK FOREVER sustains the plausible fantasy to reality charm of Bring Me Back while forwarding Chris and Claire’s story.
Kudos, Ms. Booth; BACK FOREVER is exactly what a sequel should be.
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